Monday, January 19, 2009

What New Yorkers want is... infrastructure

The headline in the lead story yesterday in the New York Times's City section was ‘Obama, Pave Atlantic Avenue’, and the main thrust of what (a selective cross-section of) New Yorkers want from President Barack Obama's administration is... infrastructure.

Two examples

SAM SCHWARTZ
President and chief executive officer, Sam Schwartz Engineering

Let’s think big, really big. Let’s take $100 million of the new funds to draw up plans for 2030 and beyond.

The Staten Island subway was started in 1923 and abruptly halted. Let’s finish it, and finally bring rail service from our most overlooked borough to Brooklyn and Manhattan.

Let’s run trains from Grand Central and Penn Station through Sunnyside Yards with a transfer via bus or light rail to the La Guardia shuttle.

Freight transport, long neglected in New York, must move to the front burner. Let’s advance Congressman Jerrold Nadler’s tunnel from New Jersey to Brooklyn. But, simultaneously, we need to figure out what to do once the freight gets to Brooklyn.

Let’s rebuild the anachronistic Belt Parkway, make it an expressway and get trucks off Caton Avenue, Linden Boulevard, Parkside Avenue and much of central Brooklyn.

AARON NAPARSTEK
Editor in chief, Streetsblog.org

New York’s surface transportation system needs a green makeover. We need to redesign our streets to put buses, bicycles and pedestrians first, and to handle curbside parking and deliveries more effectively.

The top priority has to be the creation of a citywide bus rapid-transit network, known in transportation circles as B.R.T. This is, essentially, a “surface subway” — it moves passengers quickly by giving buses their own dedicated express lanes, collecting fares before boarding and using real-time information to manage routing. A successful pilot project is already speeding up bus trips on Fordham Road in the Bronx.

A citywide network would cost less than subway expansion, reduce traffic congestion and emissions, extend the transit system into underserved neighborhoods and spread opportunities for economic development throughout the five boroughs. And it would quickly put thousands of New Yorkers to work building and running the system. Driving a bus is a green job.


Nobody mentioned an arena--though that should hardly be a federal priority.

Nobody even mentioned affordable housing, though I'd bet that's an artifact of not quoting anyone in the housing field. Then again, if the transportation infrastructure is improved, the housing will follow.

Some commenters questioned the wish lists posted and more than one suggested New York needs something many other major cities (and not-so-major-cities like Minneapolis and Cleveland) have: a direct train route to the airport.

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